Talking Television and Values.

Fall Preview: Ugly Betty

Posted by Travis R Grant on August 16, 2006

It seems like a great plot line, and Ugly Betty has some slight potential. But despite its Thursday schedule, this one will be a flop.

Based on the popular Latino television Betty La Fea, Ugly Betty is about a “square peg” trying to fit herself into the fashion world. While Betty Suarez (America Ferrera) turns out to be quite successful at her job, she is mocked, belittled, and dumped on, by the elite of the high fashion industry. The whole industry seems to be against Betty, who happens to be the assistant to the director of a fashion magazine.

Betty’s boss, Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius), sees the true talent that Betty has, and realizes that she can succeed in the industry. Betty also develops a crush for Daniel, which will provide the every tedious denied love sub-plot so famous in television.

At first you might think that this is a show about the little guy taking on the big man. Perhaps that is the initial premise. However, based on the previews, this show will miss the mark. While at first some of the “nerd” humor will be funny, eventually, it will get tiring. There will also be so much emphasis on the elites and their denigrating world, that it will almost seem that Betty and Daniel are the sub-plot.

Sure Betty will always come out on top. Sure we will all see a little bit of ourselves in Betty. Sure many shows will have a “feel good” appeal to it. But after a while, this show will lose its image as a show about the small man rising, and it will become another attempt at media mockery of the average Jane.

The message that Betty is a strong woman will come across; she would have to be to put up with all the ridicule thrown at her. However, that is where this show will fail. No person is strong enough to withstand what she will have to. As people realize this disconnect and realize that it is just way too much punishment, and not enough rewards for anyone to keep up with the abuse, they will start turning off this show.

While this may have been popular on Latino TV, it will miss the mark in the U.S. It is unfortunate that ABC put as much stock in it as to actually place on Thursday night. I hope they have a good back up mid-season show.


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